Oh, poor Aeros. What a lousy weekend. Lost all 3 games, only able to score 1 goal in each. Lost Joe Fallon for 6 weeks, if the injury I'm hearing is true, after he was hurt late in Friday's 2-1 loss to Rockford.
The rest of the weekend was on the shoulders of Scott Greenham, a guy fresh out of college with just a handful of pro games in the ECHL under his belt. Apparently, he was also the super-secret back-up plan a few weeks ago when the Wild were running out of options in net.
He was a rock star in his first game, again vs. Rockford, making 37 saves in a 4-1 loss. He held it to a 1-1 tie all the way to the third period, but Rockford racked up a couple in the third, and then an empty netter to finish it off.
In Chicago on Sunday, it was almost identical, down to the the scorer of the lone Aeros goal in the first period (Jeff Taffe). 4-1 final, empty netter at the end, 28 saves for Greenham.
The most damning statistic? The Aeros were out-shot 73-39 in those two games. They were getting out-shot regularly last week, but still had the scoring to get wins. Still, as advanced stat nerds will tell you, that's not a long term recipe for success. Eventually that's going to crumble. And boy did it ever this weekend.
It felt to me, after this weekend, like the Aeros should have been at the bottom of the standings. Just that ugly knot you get in your stomach when your team is rudderless for longer than a game or two.
In fact, I kept clicking refresh on the Conference standings because I couldn't believe they were still well in the hunt after all that. But currently, they're sitting alone in 5th with 76 points.
The problem in this conference is that there are FOUR teams behind them with 75 points. The standings don't look too dire at a glance, but baby, they are. A couple of losses by the Aeros and a few wins by the teams right behind them could dramatically change the playoff landscape.
The great news is that Matt Hackett is back (until Backstrom or Harding tweaks something again), and that should instill some confidence in the rest of the team, as well as bring a bit more normality back a locker room that he's a huge part of.
The fellas have one more game on the road, tonight in Milwaukee (so if you hurry, you can still make it!), then they're back home for a couple (Thursday/Saturday). Then it's a blissful week at home, getting some good practice time and rest in.
And then the Wild will be done (OHTHANKGODWHENSTHEDRAFT?) and they should get an influx of guys who will help with the final push, plus maybe some college/junior boys get to go for a spin.
So, while the weekend was super bleak, help (and hope) are on the very near horizon, and I hope I have happier news to share next week.
Meanwhile, here's some hockey destruction courtesy of Drew Bagnall for you to enjoy: